“The whole lot, Czechs, Magyars, Poles, Jugos, Roumanians, should be put in a bag and shaken up and then handed over to a decent Briton to administer.” A Contribution on the British Perception of Czech-German Relations in Czechoslovakia to 1933
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The study uses unpublished sources from the National Archives in London and scientific literature to analyse the British Legation in Prague’s perception of Czech-German relations in Czechoslovakia up to 1933. After some initial fumbling caused by a lack of knowledge of the Central European region following the collapse of Austria-Hungary, responsible officials in London decided to wait for the outcome of the peace conference in Paris. At the same time, British diplomats acknowledged that they would have to rely on co-operation with France in the region, and as a result indirectly supported French claims and demands; once the peace conference had ended, however, Great Britain focused on its own issues and the affairs of its empire. At the start of the 1920s, the British diplomatic mission in Prague also settled in its position and the first Minister, George Clerk, provided unbiased information on Czech-German coexistence within Czechoslovakia, and partially acknowledged that both sides were right (he understood some of the Germans’ objections), but on the other hand he clearly recognised the new state and perceived its minorities policy as very accommodating, and respect ing international obligations. Following the calm period of the 1920s when even the British Legation in Prague remarked on the qualitative shift in relations between both ethnicities, the beginning of the 1930s arrived alongside the economic crisis, which transformed the domestic political situation within the First Czechoslovak Republic. According to British Minister, Joseph Addison, the position of the largest minority in the country had deteriorated, something he thought was due to the fact that Czechoslovak officials were breaching the Minority Treaty and were not doing enough for the wellbeing of its German population, and that this did not bode well for the future.
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